1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Corban

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CORBAN (קרבן), an Aramaic word meaning “a consecrated gift.” Josephus uses the word of Nazirites and of the temple treasure of Jerusalem. Such a votive offering lay under a curse if it were diverted to ordinary purposes, like the spoil of Jericho which Achan appropriated (Josh, vii.), or the temple treasure of Delphi which was seized by the Phocians, 356 B.C. The word is found in Mark vii. 11, the usual interpretation of which is that Jesus refers to an abuse — a man might declare that any part of his property which came into his parents' hands was corban, consecrated, i.e. that a curse rested on any benefit they might get from it. The Jewish scribes thus fenced the law of vows with a traditional interpretation which made men break the most binding injunctions of the Mosaic Law, in this case the fifth commandment. A totally different explanation of the passage is put forward by J. H. A. Hart in The Jewish Quarterly Review for July 1907, the gist of which is that Jesus commends the Pharisees for insisting that when a man has vowed a vow to God he should pay it even though his parents should suffer.